With Hannibal now focusing its attention more on its titular character, episode eight of the series ups the action as Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelson)continues his search for a friend, and comes into contact with a man who may just fit the bill: sophisticated, classical, and with a penchant for murder.
After the change in last week’s episode of showing Hannibal himself as the elusive killer that he is, Fromage marks a return to the memorable displays of murder that have become synonymous with the show. What the episode adds to the fungal murders and deathly angels of the past is a new and shocking tableaux: a trombonist is found on stage with his throat cut, vocal cords treated into strings, and the neck of a cello sticking up out of his mouth. In terms of brutal imagery, Hannibal never fails to deliver something unique in its elegance, with this victim proving perhaps the most eloquent yet. The identity of the killer is already known at this point, as one of the episode’s opening scenes shows Tobias (Demore Barnes), the mysterious friend of Hannibal’s patient Franklin (Dan Fogler), turning the guts of a man into strings for the instruments he sells in his shop. Seriously, the writing staff of Hannibal can boast some imaginative minds.
It is this murder that sparks the rest of the episode’s action, as the neurotic Franklin returns to Hannibal’s office to discuss Tobias, and his belief that he is a psychopath. Whilst Hannibal waylays his worries, it is clear that the doctor is intrigued, and goes to visit Tobias. The similarities between the two are well staged to suggest that Hannibal may have found the friend he was seeking, despite his protestations that he has no interest in such a thing. However, with the elegantly tall and sophisticated Tobias a good match, the two killers share dinner and what follows is proof of the show’s skillfully drafted script. Their thinly disguised conversation is filled with humor and depth, along with a slight element of flirtation. There is no suggestion of this as a sexual interaction, more that the two share a palpable excitement at perhaps meeting their equal. However, this is short lived as their pleasant dinner soon descends into threats, with each discussing the murder of the other. Mads Mikkelsen is pitch perfect as always, showing only the merest sparks of emotion that to miss them would be easy. However, his skill at speaking volumes with just a furtive look or a wry smile is all the more important when fear is included in these moments of emotion, almost as if the mask of his “person suit” is slipping.
Meanwhile (and it is very much the case that this is secondary), Will (Hugh Dancy) is continuing to deteriorate under the stresses of his work. With Will still apparently not warranting any closure, or focus, in his storyline, further instability is added, with him now hearing pained animal noises and self-medicating, whilst still hallucinating Garrett Jacob Hobbs. It’s a wonder the elk didn’t rear its antlered head once more (at least not in Will’s story). Whilst there is some interesting development between Will and Caroline Dhavernas’ Alana Bloom (albeit odd considering her relationship with Hannibal in the previous episode), it seems that he is now merely the puppet of Lecter that the doctor has always intended. This is no fault of Hugh Dancy, who continues to play his character to great effect, but it may be the case that the strong focus on Graham at the start of the season has slipped to the background. This is not wholly unwarranted (the show is called Hannibal after all), but the continued references to his storyline are becoming repetitive.
However, what Will’s storyline lacks is more than made up for with the continuation of Hannibal’s. Whilst the climax of Fromage is perhaps ramped up to the point that it seems not to fit with the rest of the series at all, it is an indication that Hannibal is continuing to add to its repertoire, giving Hannibal an even greater physical presence on screen. The psychology of the show is still at its core, and now that the narrative is building up some pace, the remaining episodes of the series are sure to deliver something to sink your teeth into.
“I didn’t poison you Tobias, I wouldn’t do that to the food.” – Hannibal may need to get his priorities in order when faced with a killer who has him in his sights.
Best Kill: The disgustingly elegant depiction of a man made one with music is a shocking return to the images that Hannibal does best.
Best Scene: The dinner scene between Hannibal and Tobias is perfectly judged and supremely acted by Mads Mikkelson.